Who am I and why does it matter?: A phenomenological study of adoption, attachment, and identity formation
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how eight adoptees viewed the impact of adoption on attachment and identity formation, which in turn would emphasize the need for competency standards for mental health professionals. The majority of adoption studies have focused on either comparisons of adoptees and non-adoptees or on post-adoption needs of adoptive parents. Prior research shows a higher representation of adoptees seeking mental health services for various reasons, but also that mental health professionals are not adequately trained to work with specific issues related to adoption. Eight individuals who were adopted at (or near) birth were interviewed for their lived experiences, and seven themes emerged: loyalty, feelings of ‘otherness’, identity, being a people-pleaser, relational/attachment issues, secrecy and lies, and experience with mental health professionals. The relevance of research findings and implications for mental health professional competency are discussed, and suggestions for future research are included.